Chapter 2: The Weeping forest
She woke up lying in a soft bed covered in a white silk sleeping dress, underneath an emerald green blanket. On the right side of the bed, sat a man beside her. He was holding her hand. Yet her sight and feeling in her body hadn’t ultimately returned. Everything still looked blurry and felt numb. The man shouted to a servant standing by the door. “Get the mother nurse, say she has awakened!” That voice sounded so familiar in her ears, and suddenly she realised it was Marcus. She was grateful. Elyanna tried to speak, but she wasn’t able to get a single sound through. Her mouth felt so dry like she had been eating sand. She tried again, and a tiny shriek got out. Marcus turned his face around. His brown eyes, filled with worry. “Here let me help you up Elyanna.” He put her pillow behind her back and helped her sit up. The only thing that she could do was stare into his dark brown eyes. She looked around and saw she was lying in a big bed. The walls were draped with carpet’s that were made in a faraway kingdom across the giant endless lake of Swalliand. The rugs were coloured red with a green flower pattern. Elyanna thought that the colour combination was just wrong. Next to the bed stood a little wooden table with a glass filled with a see-through drink on top. “Here, drink some wine, you need to get some fluids in you,” Marcus said, handing her the glass. An elder woman, dressed in a brown bloody working dress, rushed into the room. At the foot of the bed, she took a break to catch her breath. She pulled Marcus aside and started to inspect Elyanna very roughly. She felt her temperature, checked her pupils, searched for a pulse and checked things that Elyanna was not able to understand what it had to do with her own health. When she was done, she pulled Marcus with her to the entrance of the bedroom. “Everything looks normal; the only thing that concerns me a bit is her high pols. I say she must stay in bed for another day. I will make a potion that she must take tonight to let her sleep better and a potion for the next day to give her more energy.” Elyanna saw Marcus nodding in silence. The nurse left the room, and Marcus approached her. She noticed that he wasn’t wearing his casual dark blue tunic with short sleeves, his black trousers and black boots. Now he was dressed in a black tunic with a silver belt around his waist and white pants with black boots. At his belt, she could see that he was carrying his sword with him. He came closer and sat on the bed. He looked her in the eyes and said, “The mother nurse says you are fine, but your high pols concerns her, so you must stay another day in bed. She will prepare a couple of potions for you to drink.” Marcus put his stare on the bed. “Marcus? That mother nurse, who was that? She isn’t the nurse we are used to, right? And why are you dressed like that? You never wear clothes like these? Please tell me what happened and where we are?” She said with a panicked tone in her cracked voice. Her head started to spin. “I’ll explain everything tomorrow Elyanna, now rest. Look, there is a nurse with your sleeping draught. Goodnight.” Marcus stood up and let the nurse pass. The expression on his face looked like he was in a lot of stress.
While Elyanna kept staring at him while he left the room, the nurse got impatient. She grabbed Elyanna’s chin with her chicken bone fingers and forced the sleeping draught in her mouth. She made sure that Elyanna swallowed it. After the nurse left the room, the sleeping draught immediately kicked in. She started to lose control and tried to fight. But it didn’t work, her eyes were slowly closing, till she was gone entirely.
A group of knights were riding on the king’s road to the capital. Among that group were not only knights but also simple soldiers and a wagon. At the front of the group, two knights dressed in full black armour were riding on their white horses. One of the knights ordered its horse to slow down and went riding next to the wagon that was right behind them. He pulled up a curtain, and Elyanna laid there sleeping. He let the curtain fall back down and went back to ride in front of the wagon. “And?” Asked the other knight as he saw his companion approaching him. “She is still asleep. What bothers me is that I do not understand why she is summoned. I just can’t think of any reason. And she needs rest after what happened. It is something I will never forget. You should have seen it, how she suddenly fell down. Her body started to shake uncontrollable, her eyes rolled up into her head and suddenly no movement at all. I remember rushing to her calling for the mother nurse. At first, the nurse thought she was poisoned, but when she woke up, she was fine. It was terrible to watch, Rulf.” Said the knight. Rulf was not able to see his soon to be brother in law’s face because of the helmet they were wearing. “She will be fine, Marcus, don’t worry. She comes from a strong and old family who have endured worse battles that we know about.” Said Rulf reassuring his friend. But Marcus knew or had a strange feeling that something strange had occurred.
Suddenly from the wagon behind them, they heard a woman screaming the longs out of her body. Marcus called the group to a complete halt and jumped off his horse. He rushed to the wagon and pulled the curtain open. In a giant panic, her hair tangled sat Elyanna. Marcus climbed into the wagon to grab her but before he knew, jumped Elyanna out the wagon and started running straight into the fields. Marcus crawled back out of the wagon, took his horse and raced behind her. He saw she was running towards a big lake of heavy mud. Marcus rushed by her and stopped his horse in front of her. As Elyanna fell on her knees, she put her hands on her face so the knight couldn’t see her face. Marcus jumped off his horse and took off his cap to cover her. Still in shock, Elyanna did not dare to look at her kidnapper. The only thing she didn’t understand was why he was so kind. Marcus pulled her up to let her stand on her feet. They walked back to the wagon without saying a word to each other. Marcus, his horse, followed his master like a trained dog. Rulf kept guard and started to think about his betrothed. Mearwynn alone at their mansion, not knowing if he would ever return back home. Seeing Marcus taking care of Elyanna just made him jealous. He wished that Mearwynn was here with him.
Elyanna was back in the wagon, and Marcus came back riding next to Rulf. “I still think it was a bad idea to leave while she was out of consciousness. We should have waited.” Said Marcus. “No! You know what our scroll said. It said that we have to be there as soon as possible. You know strange things are happening in our kingdom. And it is still a two-day ride to Reingnal!” said Rulf agitated and still jealous. “First we had to go to the Hospice fortress so she could have a proper check-up which was a day ride in the wrong direction. And that was a huge waste of our time because then suddenly she seemed completely fine. After that, we had to put her in a wagon, because the nurse made the sleeping draught too strong, so she wasn’t able to wake. And now she probably thinks that we have kidnapped her. Isn’t this so much fun!” Said Rulf becoming even more frustrated. Marcus tried to soothe his best friend. “I know that things are happening and leaving my sister and family behind was difficult for me too. And you know how much I care about my family and friends.”
Rulf nodded in agreement and said, “And Elyanna might not see her family ever again. I think that her faith in the king’s castle will be much worse than ours.” Marcus did not like where Rulf meant with that. Since they had left the Hospice fortress, a massive urge to protect his friend Elyanna by all cost had emerged in his body. “We should just make the best out of this, Rulf.” Rulf nodded in silence and gave the order that made the group go back into movement onto Reingnal, the capital of the kingdom. In the wagon sat Elyanna. At first, she indeed thought that she was kidnapped, but then she overheard the parts of the conversation between the two knights. But she soon recognised the two voices. It was the voices of Marcus and Rulf. Now she knew she was safe.
The day turned into darkness, and the group of knights made camp in the weeping forest. When you look around, it seemed that all the trees had a face that was weeping. Are you ready, Marcus? She might still think we kidnapped her, jump out and run off again!” Said Rulf, slightly joking with Marcus. Marcus went standing in position to catch Elyanna if she tried to escape again. “On the count of three, I will open the curtain. ONE, TWO, THREE!.” Rulf swung the curtain open, and Elyanna was sitting there, watching the boys. Marcus and Rulf look somewhat confused. “Hi, guys, nice to see you two again. Thank you for telling me we’re going on a trip or quest or whatever.” Said Elyanna a bit cross. She looked at Rulf with a firm face. “Hey don’t look at me like that, look at Marcus he was the one who put you in this wagon.” Said Rulf, scared of her firm look. Marcus replied, “I will explain everything at the campfire over dinner. First, let us freshen you up a bit. A bit further lies the river of tears that runs through this forest.” After Elyanna freshened her up and the knights and soldiers were sitting around the campfires having their dinner, Marcus explained everything to her. He told the story about what happened and their journey up till this moment like it was a legend of old times. The way he told stories or legends was magical. Everyone was immediately drawn to listen.
When dinner was over, there was silence. No-one said a word. Suddenly a wind went through the forest and the sound of people crying. Some men started to look around where the crying came from. A few others stood up, drew their swords and started to shout, “Who’s there, show yourself!” But no reaction, the sound only became louder as the wind rushed through the forest. Rulf stood up and yelled, “Everyone sit down! it is just the wind that rushes through these trees.” The men put down their swords and went back to sit around the campfire. Marcus stood up and went standing closer to the fire and said in a mysterious but soothing voice, “There is a legend about this forest. They say there is a reason why these trees look like they are weeping and why you hear people cry when the wind rushes through. Once in the time that magic still roamed the realm, in this exact location there stood a small village. It was a peaceful village, and everyone lived in harmony with each other. You could hear the music coming from the houses. Once a month the whole village came together to offer a piece of that month’s harvest to the mysterious statue of a magical dark elf so the next month the harvest would be good too. But one month the harvest went bad, a disease had fallen over the crops and animals. When offering day arrived, and they could not deliver a piece of the harvest, the statue of the dark elf came alive. It spoke out an ancient dark spell. Slowly one by one, day by day, people started to turn into trees. The families wept for their lost ones as they slowly started changing into trees. A river started to form of the tears of the villagers. The statue of the dark elf disappeared into thin air as the last person turned into a tree. When everyone was gone, only a forest was left. The houses started to crumble down till there was nothing left of the village. Nowadays people say that when the winds rush through the forest, you can still hear people weeping for their loved ones. Some say if you follow the river to its source, you might find the statue of the dark elf. Through time many have tried, but none ever returned. The only thing is that how closer you get to the source, you find a lot of trees standing closer and closer together and the weeping sound gets louder and louder.” Elyanna was enchanted by his voice, she looked around, and it looked like every single knight or soldier was in a trance of his story. A few men stood up, their eyes filled with a slight fear. They said a quick goodnight and went into their tents. Others stayed for a couple more hours. Hours went by, Elyanna stared into the fire, and she heard through the whispers that a man started to sing in a soft, gentle voice. She looked around, and across the campfire, she saw a man with beautiful ginger hair. He had a round head with a cheeky looking face. His eyes were a colour blue-green with a black ring around the iris. He wore his black armour with a red cape. The song he was singing was a lullaby for soldiers and knights who had it difficult when they were away from home. As he sang, more men joined in. Even Elyanna joined the song. She remembered her father singing that song every night in front of the fire when he felt alone. Her mother died after the birth of her brother ever since her father raised his children on his own. He had it very difficult and refused to wed again. When the song was over, everyone stood up. Elyanna rushed towards the singer shocked by how handsome he was she shyly thanked him for the song. The singer’s cheeks turned red. He took Elyanna her hand and gave it a small kiss as he wished her a goodnight.
The night was for most men hefty. They couldn’t sleep through the sound of constant weeping. Even Rulf and Marcus stayed up for most of the night because the noise was unbearable. Elyanna seemed like she didn’t hear the continuous weeping. The only thing she could hear was the sweet, soft and gentle voice of the ginger-haired singer. At first light, Elyanna woke up still in the trance of the singer. She started to look around camp if she could find him. Men were breaking down their tents. When she passed the soldiers and knights, she started asking if anyone had seen him, but no-one had. Her mind went crazy.
Marcus and Rulf were discussing the route they were going to take. “We have to go further on the king’s road; otherwise, we will get lost.” Said Rulf. Marcus replied, “We can’t go further on the king’s road. In a few hours, we will enter the canyon of ….” Quickly their discussion was over because a sudden scream went through the camp. The boys let the map fall on the ground and started running to the place where the scream came from. When they arrived, they found Elyanna standing in front of a body lying on the ground. Its head cut off and impaled on a spear next to its body.
Rulf gave the order to take the body away. A few men did what they were asked and carried away the body. The others went back to their own business. Marcus took Elyanna by her shoulders and led her back to her tent. The whole way back to the tent, Marcus said nothing, although he really wanted to ask her so many questions. She might not know the answer, but at least she might give some clarity about why they were summoned and why she was summoned two. Elyanna didn’t say a word either; her thoughts were with the ginger-haired soldier. What happened to him? Who would do such a thing? What was the reason? Why didn’t anyone care that he was dead? The moment she entered her tent, she turned around to ask Marcus these questions, but he had already left. Elyanna decided she wasn’t going to sit waiting in her tent. So she marched immediately out and went towards the table where Rulf and Marcus were discussing the route again. As she got closer to the table, she could hear that the boys were in a severe discussion. Suddenly Rulf flipped the table in the air.
“NO, I CAN’T ACCEPT THIS DISOBEDIENCE. IF I SAY WE GO FURTHER ON THE KINGS ROAD IT WILL BE DONE SO. I DON’T CARE ABOUT THOSE DANGERS! EVERYMAN HERE IS A KNIGHT OR A SOLDIER AND KNOWS HOW TO DEFEND HIMSELF! EXCEPT ELYANNA SHE DOESN’T EVEN KNOW HOW THE HOLD A SWORD OR HOW TO DEFEND HERSELF! AND I WILL NOT LOOK AFTER HER. YOU WERE THE ONE WHO WANTED TO BRING HER ALONG!” Said Rulf infuriated. Elyanna couldn’t believe that words like that left Rulf’s mouth, she thought they were friends. Her head turned as red as a tomato from anger. She was searching for something she could fling at Rulfs head. But the first thing that jumped in the corner of her eye was a bow and arrows. Quickly she grabbed them, pulled the bow tense and prepared an arrow to fire. She remembered how that was the first thing her father really taught her and how good she became at it.
Rulf was still yelling around, but out of a sudden, an immense pain went through his left ear. A loud sound of an arrow hitting a tree went through the air. In anger, Rulf grabbed his ear, and as he looked at his fingers, he saw there was blood. Marcus grabbed his sword by the hold, ready to draw. From afar, a voice yelled, “You are lucky Rulf that I aimed for your ear and not for your eye. Let this be a warning if you call me a weak, defenceless woman ever again, I promise I will aim for your eye.” The Boys looked to where the voice came from and saw Elyanna standing with bow and arrow ready to fire again. Rulfs mouth fell open from amazement. Marcus started to laugh at his friend. “Fine, I take my words back; everyone here can defend himself. Therefore we WILL go further on the king’s road,” said Rulf. Marcus suddenly stopped laughing, his face turned dark, and he walked away with heavy feet stomping on the ground towards his tent.
Elyanna put the bow and arrows back where she had found them. Questions entered her head, like why doesn’t Marcus want to travel further along the king’s road? What lies ahead? She was shaken out of those thoughts as Rulf grabbed her by her shoulders and said with a big smile on his face, “Let’s get you into a proper outfit and a weapon to defend yourself.” Rulf pushed Elyanna in the bigger tent and tossed her new clothes on the floor. “Get dressed. I’ll wait here outside.” Rulf turned his back to the entry of the tent and stood guard with his arms crossed and a smirk grin on his face.
In the tent picked, elyanna agitated her new clothes up while ridiculously mimicking the words of Rulf. While she puts on her clothes, she mimics Rulf, “Oh look I’m Rulf. I know everything better than anyone because I am a real knight.” Fully dressed, she steps out of the tent pushing Rulf away so that he almost fell. It suddenly looked like all the men stopped with what they were doing and stared at her. Which was actually happening?
Marcus was cooled down and felt good enough again to leave his tent. As he swung his tent open, a beautiful woman stood in front of him, and Rulf seemed like he was trying not to fall.
The woman was dressed in a tight brown legging with brown boots that almost came to her knees. She was wearing a long dark green coat that followed her figure as if it had been made just for her. Underneath she wore a half-long white dress with a black leather corset. Her long blond wavy hair was braided, making her face more radiant. Therefore her elvish ears stuck out and she looked more like a real Moon elf than a normal human being. As Marcus stared at her, he remembered how she always tried to hide her ears underneath her hair. Like she was afraid that people would see that she was an elf. Since the age of the humans arrived, less and less elves were seen. They said that humans used to hunt the elves so they could use their essence for gaining power.
Rulf shook Marcus out of his trance, “Hey lad, give the elvish woman some weapons, will ya?! Everyone else, begin packing we are leaving in an hour!” Rulf pushed Marcus to Elyanna. All the other men rushed back to their tents.
Elyanna asked Marcus, “Is there something? you were staring at me for so long?” Marcus replied with his face bloodred out of shame, “No, no, no nothing, I was admiring your elvish ears.” “My ears? Is there something wrong with them? Do I have to hide them?” She said blushing and staring at the ground. “NO no, I mean no you don’t have to hide them you look eh good like that. Eh follow me I’ll give you your weapons,” said Marcus uneasy. As they walked to the weapon stand, everyone around them was rushing to get ready. Men were looking for lost stuff in a slight panic. It was total chaos.
There was an awkward silence between Elyanna and Marcus the whole walk to the weapon stand. At the weapon stand, Marcus took a dagger and a sword. “Here you go, these are yours now, I’ve let a smith make them while you were healing up at the Hospice fortress. Just in case, well, you never know. And I bought this bow and arrows from a dwarf merchant at the market. The bow and arrows are made from an ancient magical Baobab tree, from a faraway kingdom across the endless Swalliand lake. Well, that is what the dwarf said. Now I’ve got to go and pack my stuff; you better do the same!” Said Marcus with his head as red as a lobster and looking at the ground. “Thank you for everything, Marcus.” She said.
Marcus had put it in a running pace, but he heard what she said and that left a big smile on his face. Elyanna looked at her bow, and there was something engraved in the old elvish language. She thought of the lessons elvish that her father taught her. It said, Never missed its target. She put everything away and went to get ready for going back on the road.
When everyone was ready and packed a knight brought her a horse. “The horse is called Silver Moon or in Elvish Silmerána. “Said the knight “It was the horse of the ginger-haired soldier. Now he’s yours.” before the knight left Elyanna quickly asked, “What was the name of the soldier?” The knight answered in a sad voice “Gareth. His name was Gareth.” Elyanna turned to the horse and looked it right in the eye. A sudden flash went through her mind, a burst of a Silvermoon upon the sky. The same moon that shined upon the night she was born. It felt like a sign to her. She focused her back on the mission, climbed on the horse and joined Rulf and Marcus at the beginning of the caravan.
Er zijn nog geen reacties.